The following image comes from sports physiotherapist Lee Higginbotham, which I found on his Twitter page. It’s an excellent, evidence based summary highlighting the potential discrepancy between a patient’s symptoms and their scan results. If we give a normal, healthy person, with no musculoskeletal pain or symptoms a series of scans, we are likely to find some abnormalities. Some people were born with slight abnormalities, which progress over the years as they age. Other abnormalities may have been triggered by accidents or injuries, but the symptoms went away over time.

In clinical practice, we often see a patient who has not been troubled by any musculoskeletal pain until they experience severe stress in their life. For example, they lost their job, got a divorce, or their child became sick. All of a sudden the patient is struck down with crippling pain and immobility. A scan may find an abnormality, but how long was that abnormality present? Stress can be the trigger that makes the patient symptomatic.

This is also a good reminder not to rush into surgery just because one doctor recommended it. For a start, it’s always good to get three different medical opinions. Sometimes surgery on the skeletal system is absolutely essential and brings a huge improvement in a patient’s quality of life. However, other times a surgery may correct an abnormality, but does little to ease a patient’s symptoms.

The degree of pain an individual experiences is largely a reflection of the level of inflammation in their body. Bringing your inflammation level down helps to ease most musculoskeletal symptoms. I have written an entire free e-book on how to naturally reduce pain, which you can read here.